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We are failing kids from poor families

Written By: - Date published: 9:21 am, September 16th, 2018 - 77 comments
Categories: articles, class, Deep stuff, education, journalism, labour, Media, newspapers, Politics, Social issues, tertiary education - Tags:

I know here at the Standard we often chip at the Herald. Any publication that regularly promotes Mike Hosking deserves it.

But occasionally the Herald produces outstanding journalism. And when it does we should acknowledge this and praise the Herald.

It has some outstanding writers. Brian Rudman is an old favourite of mine. Matt Nippert and Simon Wilson regularly produce great work. David Fisher is always sharp.

John Roughan occasionally, very occasionally, produces work that I can agree with.

Fran O’Sullivan has a right wing view but it is an intellectually informed view.

And to their ranks we should add the name of Kirsty Johnston.

She has produced this outstanding jaw dropping article on how poor kids are not becoming professionals in the weekend Herald. This is the quality of article that should make us all reflect and cause the Government to change course.

Because basically we are ensuring that our professions are middle and upper class enclaves and devoid of working class and poor kids. A society where you can rise through the ranks because of your ability and not because of your class? Forget it.

Here is her conclusion:

Data shows just 6 per cent of those accepted into the elite university courses of law, medicine and engineering come from our most disadvantaged homes. Meanwhile, more than half the entrants are from families on the top three tiers of the income ladder. In simple terms, poor are outnumbered by the rich 10 to one.

This is the new New Zealand, once touted as a great egalitarian state, but now a place where the circumstances of birth and family are so strong they are almost impossible to overcome. Data shows New Zealand is now more unequal than the countries its 19th century founders fled, the eighth worst in the OECD according to the Gini inequality measure. Despite the settlers’ desire to throw off the rigid structures of their former lives, in less than 200 years their “classless” society has stratified into rich, middle and poor, with property ownership a driving force.

And the detail:

Achievement gaps between rich and poor are evident throughout the school system, and grow wider as students age. For example, while at NCEA Level 2 there is a 7 percentage point lag between the pass rates of the most and least deprived, by the time students attempt Level 3, it’s 18 points. Four times as many rich students gain University Entrance as poor students. And while 50 per cent of students from the high decile schools go on to university, only 17 per cent from the low deciles make it in.

Where the ultimate advantage plays out, however, is in the university courses with limited numbers and high entry thresholds – degrees which also lead to the highest salaries. Data sourced from six universities shows while 60 perc ent of the almost 16,000 students accepted into law, medicine and engineering in the past five years came from the richest third of homes, just 6 per cent came from the poorest third.

The further down the income ladder you go, the more desperate the figures become. If you only include those from decile one schools, the most disadvantaged, the figure drops to just 1 per cent.

Most programmes accepted only a handful of students from decile one schools each year, and sometimes none. For example, Auckland University’s medical school took 12 decile one students out of 1160 total admissions to its second-year course. Victoria law school took eight of 1400. Otago law took three, of 1180. And Canterbury engineering took one, of more than 2000.

Quick reminder, in a perfect world where talent and not wealth was the only determinant each decile would contribute 10% of the total intake.

And the consequences?

Studies overseas have found that even where poor students have high test scores, they are less likely to go university than their rich peers with lower marks. More important than intelligence is the ability to capitalise on intelligence. Those with wealth are able to cluster together in the best neighbourhoods and and fill up the best schools. They can afford extra tuition and nutritious food and to give their children their own rooms and desks. They go on to get the best jobs.

In New Zealand, the exclusion of the poor is epitomised by prohibitive property prices in “top” school zones, and in the white flight from low-decile schools. Just like elsewhere, our poorest students end up segregated in smaller schools with fewer resources, bearing the burden of concentrated disadvantage – more students who are cold and hungry and stressed.

Unlike elsewhere, however, New Zealand has been reluctant to acknowledge the problem as a class issue, a phenomenon wider than the education system, a flow-on effect from the way society is structured as a whole.

Experts say there are several reasons for this. Firstly, they argue New Zealand simply isn’t ready to let go of its founding egalitarian myth – despite evidence that narrative hasn’t been true for a long time – and possibly never was.

Why this is wrong was spelt out in a second article with this quote from Auckland University sociology professor Alan France.

“People think education is a level playing-field but this is showing that’s not the case,” Auckland University sociology professor Alan France said.

“We talk about increasing Māori and Pacific participation at university, but actually the underlying issue is socio-economics. It’s money. It’s class. It’s privilege.”

He said because it was uncomfortable for the middle class to acknowledge they had an inherent advantage over the poor, New Zealand had largely ignored its inequality issues.

However, he warned it did so at its peril. Lack of opportunities for the poor was both morally and socially wrong. With an increasingly diverse society it was important to have professionals who represented society, he said.

These articles made me reflect on my personal path into law.

I was a working class kid from Mangere whose dad was a boilermaker but back then it did not seem to matter so much. In part because thanks to the wages and conditions provided by the Trade Union Movement my parents could afford to own their own home and provide us with the basics and I was able to get a well paid job during the holidays. I had to go without holidays for a while but such is life.

That was back in the 1980s.  Clearly things have changed for the worse.

Jobs for young people are now mainly at minimum wages. Both parents have to work now just to pay the rent or to finance loans for the huge amounts that Aucklanders have to pay for ordinary houses.  The chance of their kids getting to university is one of the first things to disappear.

This issue is the canary in the mine of class politics.  While this reality continues we will continue to have a problem.

Well done Kirsty Johnston.  I hope that the Government uses her articles to drive a deep rethink of the current state of Aotearoa New Zealand.

 

77 comments on “We are failing kids from poor families”

  1. gsays 1

    What is the answer?

    To reduce inequality, both fiscal and opportunity wise.
    While money is obviously a big factor, home environment has a big say in outcomes.
    Are schools and universities to turn this around while other forces work against them.

    Raise wages of the bottom 25% of earners? So households can function on one wage earner.
    More carrots and less sticks in government agencies – winz, hnz, courts?

    Sheesh Mickey, what a thing to ponder on a Sunday.

    • AsleepWhileWalking 1.1

      For any poor family unlucky enough to not have social housing providing a stable home environment is increasingly unlikely, regardless of intent or effort.

    • Nic the NZer 1.2

      “More carrots and less sticks in government agencies – winz, hnz, courts?”

      Plus, target full employment in favour of the present policy to use unemployment as a policy instrument to target low inflation (also known as NZ’s monetary policy stance). This, and the employment contracts act, are probably the most influential policy shift which have generated the large low wage employment sector in NZ.

      Also the strongest indicator of education outcomes is parental income. This applies at all levels of the education system.

      • Ed 1.2.1

        In March 1964, 247 people were unemployed in New Zealand.
        In 1964 we had a manufacturing base.

        If we want to stop failing kids from poor families, New Zealand needs to adopt socialist policies.

        Trying to appease the capitalist class won’t solve anything.

        • Nic the NZer 1.2.1.1

          Yes, obviously full employment will still have some residual level of unemployment where people are hunting between jobs, but NZ (among other countries) was implementing full employment as a political policy choice in 1964. At the beginning of the NZ documentary, ‘Someone else’s country’ one of the Labour MP’s is asked what Labour policy will be going into the election campaign. His first item was ‘Full employment’, a policy never to be seen or heard of again.

          I am going to disagree with you slightly on the manufacturing front however. We don’t need to create or re-create further manufacturing sectors in NZ. What we should do instead is create the public sector jobs needed to create full employment. The work output from these occupations need not and probably should not look like manufacturing more stuff. Many will be service like occupations, many should be in the interests of greening our economic processes and outputs. In fact I think many will not even resemble present employment.

        • Draco T Bastard 1.2.1.2

          There’s a problem with looking to manufacturing for the solution – ever increasing productivity.

          As productivity increases demand for people to do the work decreases. This, of course, lowers wages.

          Governments and economists indicate that this lower employment and lower wages is good as the economy shifts to what they call a service economy. A service economy is where people have others do things for them rather than doing them themselves. For some things this is good as getting a professional in does a better job faster but most of the service industry is Bullshit Jobs at minimum wage or even less if they’re ‘contractors’. And, of course, people on minimum wage can’t afford to hire the service people either thus seriously reducing the scale needed to support service jobs.

          Manufacturing is part of the answer. Development of fully automated factories utilising our own resources is a must with an cooperative shift from ‘work’ to study/research. A viable and sustainable economy would be reducing the number of hours we need to work while increasing living standards.

  2. SaveNZ 2

    What did they expect when Labour bought in user pays tertiary under Rogernomic’s while not exactly getting tough on the Natz allowing thousands of employment visas of cheap workers and investors to flood into NZ, to help lower wages and conditions??

    There used to be jobs for poorer students for example but these days retail, supermarkets and fruit pickers can just get in full time migrant workers who work at student rates… but happy to work any hour they are offered…on their zero hour type contract.

    Labour need to push out the neoliberals, reign in the woke left and actually get a clue about what sort of society they have created and it ain’t good news at the lower end and statistics show that the middle class are one of the widening groups getting poorer in the western world.

    Sadly even if the poor do make it and get that tertiary education and huge student loan, what next, the rise in unpaid internships and global competition to work at lower and lower wages while being in professional jobs where competition is key and why not make people redundant when it costs you nothing and you can just replace people at cheaper rates or if you are just an incompetent employer who can’t get their act together?

    • Ed 2.1

      If we renationalised our essential assets and recreated our manufacturing base, there would be decent jobs and we would cut down the fossil fuels used transporting container ships around the world.

      • joe90 2.1.1

        recreated our manufacturing base,

        What manufacturing industries of the past should we recreate?

        • Ed 2.1.1.1

          Is that question asked in good faith?
          I recommend you read Judith Bell’s book.

          • solkta 2.1.1.1.1

            It seems like a reasonable question to me. You have been complaining this morning about the contributions of others yet when someone actually asks you to expand on your ideas you tell them to go read a book.

        • Stuart Munro 2.1.1.2

          As long as people mean to be clothed and shod there will be a role for textiles and footwear manufacture.

          But we should also be creating the manufacturing industries of the future – sustainable, soft tech, renewable essentials.

          These might include photovoltaics, composite building materials, standardised electric bikes and mobility vehicles. They can be achieved in the context of the light moderate to hi tech area in which NZ has occasionally prospered.

          • Ed 2.1.1.2.1

            And with tariffs we can make them here.
            From Judith Bell’s book, in 1964, 5500 people were employed in footwear manufacture in New Zealand.
            The 1965 New Zealand Officia Yearbook showed 19,000 workers were engaged in clothing manufacture.
            In 1964 we made 2,655,204 toothbrushes here.
            In 1964 we made 77,795 irons here.
            In 1964 we made 152,312 electrical radiators here.

            In 1964 there were 247 people unemployed.
            And in 1964 we kept detailed records.

            We have a choice.
            Socialism or barbarism.
            We presently live under the latter.

            • Stuart Munro 2.1.1.2.1.1

              Although tarrifs were a good way of protecting local industry, they are not the only way to bring it back. A coalition about to sign up to the TPP simply cannot conceive of reintroducing them – in spite of the obvious fact that the mercantilism of countries like China is hurting us rather badly.

              The old economist’s chestnut was building a shoe factory in Sudan. Problem is, though they need them, people can’t afford to buy the product. Not unless they make it themselves. One of my grandfathers made his own boots. This was not especially unusual in those days – certainly most households made their own clothing.

              There is no reason many of those skills cannot be revived, with a sustainable focus, to feed wealth into the local economy, even if it’s only slowing the loss to foreign manufacturers. But it would require a government focused on the welfare of our people, not self-serving sacks of shit like the Key kleptocracy.

              • Ed

                “But it would require a government focused on the welfare of our people.”

                Totally agree.
                Haven’t had that since 1973.

                • Morrissey

                  It’s interesting to note that Roger Douglas, Michael Bassett, Mike Moore and Richard Prebble, four of the nastiest individuals to ever slither across New Zealand public life, were in that last decent Labour government. But Norman Kirk and, later, Bill Rowling were well aware of their propensities and kept them under a tight control. Douglas even came up with a sensible and workable superannuation plan—contemptuously dismissed by the National Party.

                  When Labour returned in 1984, however, the man “in charge” was David Lange, who didn’t have a clue. The wrecking crew, augmented by the likes of David Caygill, Trevor de Cleene, Stan Rodger, Peter Neilson, Phil Goff and Helen Clark, was permitted to create havoc and we are still dealing with the result of it.

            • joe90 2.1.1.2.1.2

              We made plastics, paints, chemicals, textiles, batteries, rubber compounds, tobacco, heavy/light foundry, fabricated and smelted products, petroleum/petrochemical products and motor vehicles/components, too.

              Should we go back those industries, because were by far the largest employers.

              btw, if you bothered, you’d know that we continue to keep records

              http://archive.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/snapshots-of-nz/digital-yearbook-collection.aspx

              • Ed

                We can make most stuff here.
                And create tariffs to defend our manufacturing base.

              • Draco T Bastard

                We made plastics, paints, chemicals, textiles, batteries, rubber compounds, tobacco, heavy/light foundry, fabricated and smelted products, petroleum/petrochemical products and motor vehicles/components, too.

                We still do many of those.

                Increased productivity and automation should have us making all the manufactured goods we require here in NZ from NZ resources.

                It’s the only way to have a sustainable economy.

            • Draco T Bastard 2.1.1.2.1.3

              In 1964 we made 2,655,204 toothbrushes here.
              In 1964 we made 77,795 irons here.
              In 1964 we made 152,312 electrical radiators here.

              How many of those were sold here?
              How many jobs would those same industries produce today?

              We have a choice.
              Socialism or barbarism.
              We presently live under the latter.

              Mostly true but any system that maintains capitalism will always fail. It will always produce poverty and inequality.

        • OnceWasTim 2.1.1.3

          We could (re)start building our own buses/coaches and rail rolling stock for a start – even if the former are on imported chassis.

          • Ed 2.1.1.3.1

            From Judith Bell’s book

            “ Just as the rules changed in the 1980s to favour importers and foreign manufacturers, so they can be changed back by a determined government backed by a concerned electorate.”

            We can most stuff here.
            We just lack courage to stand up to the bankers and the capitalists.

          • Draco T Bastard 2.1.1.3.2

            What do you mean ‘restart’? There’s a thriving bus manufacturing business in NZ that exports world wide. Don’t see many of them in NZ though.

            • OnceWasTim 2.1.1.3.2.1

              ‘restart because’ there have been many that have closed (and they used to export as well).
              If there’d been something more substantial in Wellington with the current fiasco, there’d be a few more converted trolley buses rolling off the production line.

        • SaveNZ 2.1.1.4

          NZ has many raw materials. We need to start to make higher value items rather than just sell the land that the materials are on mostly to offshore corporations who are much more strategic than our government.

          Milk powder to yoghurt and other goods that are quality.
          wool to carpets
          logs to housing
          IT to the world
          Film to the world

          The other resource NZ has which has been destroyed under Rogernomics is our people and ideas in NZ. NZ government culture does not value them at all so Kiwis are forced to leave or just never meet their potential in NZ or are under the radar or sell their companies and ideas before growing it to create further jobs and wealth in NZ.

          America’s cup tech, Xero, Weta, there is actually a lot happening in NZ and our people do much better per capita because we have a world class education system currently being destroyed by neoliberals running our universities.

          Traditionally Kiwis did not have that competitive approach to life which encourages creativity and new ideas.

          Not sure why our governments seem to run their own people down all the time and think we are going to create wealth with more cafes, hotels and liquor stores and luxury spec apartments and bunker mansions in Queenstown for investors … and low income people ‘skilled’ to run a service culture only.

          Like anything collaboration is good. But NZ is not collaborating with overseas countries they are kow towing to overseas practice and bringing the worst from overseas practice into NZ destroying what we are good at, clean resources and highly skilled and creative people.

          • Ed 2.1.1.4.1

            We need to close down companies like the Warehouse which import cheap foreign stuff, destroying small New Zealand businesses jobs, communities, towns and families.

            • mauī 2.1.1.4.1.1

              Exactly.

            • SaveNZ 2.1.1.4.1.2

              Don’t worry, sounds like the hands running the warehouse are destroying it for themselves. But sadly the warehouse is yet another NZ company being destroyed by a management team using out of date US ideas… and really terrible hires to transform itself while eventually working it out it was not working… but only after significant losses of other staff… sad.

              The way things are going, can’t see NZ retailers recovering, the price of premises is huge, and so many $2 shops, K Mart etc.. globalism has created very odd pricing structures and it is probably going to get worse unless some sort of consumption or packaging tax is bought in or the planet is destroyed under the pollution of our throw away culture..

              • Ed

                The Warehouse right from its inception was based on Walmart, a company which killed communities all over the U.S.
                It should be forced out of business. The model is unsustainable and amoral.

          • Stuart Munro 2.1.1.4.2

            I’d suggest that the kind of carpets NZ chose to make were commodity carpets, the product of a local glut of wool, and consequently never commanded top dollar internationally the way Persian carpets traditionally did. Wool production is better directed to clothing because the return is higher (and thus the stress on resources is less), and there are plenty of other products that can create nice floors.

            • gsays 2.1.1.4.2.1

              wool..or…hemp.

              • SaveNZ

                Who cares what they turn the raw products into, the point is, in NZ we are failing to turn our resources into value added products that lead to well paid jobs for local people.

                • Stuart Munro

                  I agree – but there’s been a tendency for NZ to make low end commodities from what, by world standards, are high end raw materials. When the downturn comes, and it’s a cycle so one always will, that strategy can’t break even, and the likes of Feltex closes down, losing the jobs and the skill base.

                  Same is happening with our hoki – it’s the fillet block for a number of fast food chains around the world now – a bottom dollar product. Most countries no longer make fillet block – the fish is more valuable processed into something else.

          • Draco T Bastard 2.1.1.4.3

            /agreed

  3. jcuknz 3

    Poor folk have enough problems scratching a living to bother about how their kids do at school or have time at home to encourage and coach their kids with school work so it is inevitable that few will finish education at varsity. And to fight the invidious effects of Television and other electronic time wasters. Perhaps 6% is the best we can hope for until the poor have money and time to raise their kids in a way that encourages academic success.
    Also there is the modern ‘fact’ that a degree is not a certain path to financial success in life and trade training brings immediate rewards but that do not increase with time unless one steps into management.
    Basically it is a case of those that have can build while those without simply cannot.

    Another aspect comes to mind that those without often have numerous children, consigning them to a life of low paid hardship while the better educated have fewer until they can afford to properly look after them. The days of cannonfodder have passed and the world needs fewer kids to enjoy our world.

  4. Ed 4

    We need free tertiary education so University education is available for those with the ability, not the money, to enter.

    Just finished a great book called ‘I see Red’ by Judith Bell. The book shows the human cost of cheap foreign imports and why free trade agreements have destroyed New Zealand’s jobs.

    It is clear the best way we can serve working class families in this country is to create meaningful employment.
    Which means restoring our manufacturing base.
    Which means tariffs.
    Which means abandoning neoliberal capitalism.

    I would like to add my support for the brilliance of Kirsty Johnston. Have read other articles from her in the past which have been hard hitting and spoken truth to power.

  5. SaveNZ 5

    If we have a look at the minimum wage workers, many are complaining that they don’t get to see their children at all because of the hours they are working… meanwhile the kids are not being supported by parents, joining gangs etc – Meth is coming into NZ and the government does nothing.

    Long term, how is working for families, accomodation supplement, going to pan out, when the cost of living is rising beyond the amount the government can pay, and the strategy to just sell off assets (Kiwibuild land, free water etc) and give away residency to the world’s middle classes to keep housing and consumer demand sky high in NZ for multinational business, while wringing hands about the Kiwis living in tents miles away and pay the petrol taxes to support this approach is not exactly sustainable.

    Also setting up for major issues in the future…like allowing aged relatives into NZ and expecting the working poor in tents to pay for those middle class migrants to have their family around them for the next 20 years supported in cosy taxpayer funded hospitals and retirement homes while the youth and kids born here are in tents and can’t get a job beyond $20p/h and not knowing how long it would last anyway?

    What’s gonna happen when for example the world gets a scare and all the people the government gave residency and citizenship away too, rush back to NZ to live to ride it out?

    Generally that sends prices even higher.

    Great if you have got rich overseas and wads of cash and don’t need to work or pay any taxes here, bad if you are a local in NZ with the glass ceiling wages dropping in real terms for the majority and for your social services like hospitals, schools and roads…

  6. Ad 6

    Great work Mickey.

    Top stuff Kirsty Johnston.

    Kinda heartbreaking exposing class barriers like this. It’s not the country I was brought up in either.

    • Ed 6.1

      All the jobs were shipped overseas.
      And the assets sold off to foreign interests.
      There needs to be a counter revolution.
      Back to socialism .

      • Ad 6.1.1

        No economist nor any political party in parliament is proposing self-sufficient socialism for New Zealand.

        • Stuart Munro 6.1.1.1

          A move in the direction of greater self-sufficiency would nevertheless be positive.

        • Ed 6.1.1.2

          As catastrophic climate change unfolds, we shall need to become a lot more self sufficient.
          Better we act before we are forced to react.

  7. jcuknz 7

    Just as the problem has been getting worse gradually over the years so the solution will be long time coming with fewer people expecting the country to look after them and let them have as many kids as they wish….. China was on the right track with its ‘one child’ policy until recently… The educated family with two people looking after one child is the long term solution. But I doubt if those not in that position will have the nouce to see that and agree and act on it.
    Socialism is the only sensible way to organize life but those enjoying it have to accept common sense restrictions for the good of the society.
    Judging by what I read above I doubt if many here will agree with me as they put tired old political views forward as solutions.

  8. Koff 8

    It was a good article by Kirsty and very unusual to see issues of class in NZ splashed across the front page of the print version of the Weekend Herald. I’ve known Alan France (quoted in Kirsty’s article above) for a very long time. He grew up in a very working class background in Sheffield, U.K. and has become a strong advocate for disadvantaged youth and their entrenched disadvantage because of class. We all understand the analysis on the Standard, though. The question is what has to be done to reverse the status quo outside of an online left wing bubble.

  9. James 9

    The “second article” link points to the same URL as the first link. I suspect you wanted to point to https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12122733

  10. UncookedSelachimorpha 10

    Excellent article (and post), shows how far NZ is from where it should be.

    What we need:

    – completely free education
    – completely free healthcare
    – quality housing for all
    – solid income support for all

    Easily funded by a modest redistribution of wealth.

    • Ed 10.1

      Absolutely.
      We need a counter revolution.
      Back to socialism.
      To a nation with 247 unemployed.

      We need to rebuild New Zealand’s manufacturing base to support our economy.
      We need to take back our land land and assets from the corporate thieves and Juas politicians who took them away from us since 1984.

      • adam 10.1.1

        We don’t need a counter revolution ED, we just need to reject the hard right economic ideology which is dominating in Wellington.

        Labour, NZ1st, and the Greens can start the ball rolling by reforming the reserve bank act. It’s not hard, it’s not revolutionary, and it’s a simple change which will help people get the heads around running an economy right.

        Economies work best when they are for the people who actually do the living in them. Not when they are ideological beasts.

        • UncookedSelachimorpha 10.1.1.1

          I agree that hard ideological systems seldom end well (we are in one right now actually).

          All that is needed is a marked shift in public opinion and a matching shift in the political landscape and the ballot box.

    • SaveNZ 10.2

      Intersting Sweden is ranked the most at risk OECD housing market and they pay huge taxes so just taking about taxes are not going to solve issues and NZ has got itself into a Ponzi for both housing and immigration…

      it’s not just one thing, that needs fixing… complex and multiple factors individual to the country and we need smart people capable of understanding complex issues to solve that.

      Not sure they exist in the neoliberal centre of Wellington where it sounds like even Treasury can be 25% out in their budgets but not notice or economists that completely missed the housing boom and impoverished many Kiwis by telling them to rent because their was due to be a housing correction for the last 2 decades (because immigration does not effect housing apparently and you should buy shares) are still around shamelessly sharing their discredited views in the school of practical life.

      Luckily the economists have stopped telling people in Auckland that if they give up their Avocado Smash they will be able to afford a house and the banks are happy to lend on that apartment when their underpaid job can be destroyed at any time.

      • UncookedSelachimorpha 10.2.1

        Agree the tax regime is not everything. Sweden has higher taxes, more social spending, more equality and much better social outcomes than NZ.

        They have also pumped up their housing market with private debt. Higher taxes/social spending doesn’t preclude you from mucking up your housing market – they aren’t necessarily even connected.

    • Draco T Bastard 10.3

      I prefer pre-distribution. Stop people getting rich in the first place.

      Of course, we’d have to do redistribution first and get rid of the rich people.

      • UncookedSelachimorpha 10.3.1

        Really we need to get rid of the system that allows / causes very rich people to emerge at the expense of everyone else.

        If you “get rid” of the current set of rich (and thus exploiting) people but keep the system the same, will very quickly get a new set of rich people emerging.

        My view – a moderate but firm step in the direction of socialism would be a good start. Give that a go, then see how much of a problem remains.

        • Draco T Bastard 10.3.1.1

          My view – a moderate but firm step in the direction of socialism would be a good start. Give that a go, then see how much of a problem remains.

          We did that after WWII and it worked well for awhile until the rich got their feet under them again and destroyed it. The rich don’t like it when the poor are doing well.

          It’s not just socialism that’s needed but also getting rid of the rich and the strictures that make a few rich at everyone else’s expense.

        • SaveNZ 10.3.1.2

          I think the problem in NZ is we seem to be importing in and making citizens of thousands of poorer people or people who don’t need to work aka satellite families or super rich… so how is socialism working there, when the rich are as ‘poor’ on paper as the poor and middle classes or like Peter Thiel pay their taxes in other countries?

          Only a transaction style tax is going to get them.

          What is happening in Western worlds, is the burden of taxes seems to be increasingly fall on the middle class locals who under globalism are paid less and less in real terms, because the tax system is designed before easy global travel for the masses and now is not fair and doesn’t work.

          On top of that, it seems like in NZ businesses for example are more interested in flying workers in from China/India/Phillipines/Pacific than actually paying a modern wage for Kiwi’s with skills or fly people in from other parts of the country like Northland or the South Island so the skills point is moot, the kiwis can either study and get underpaid in NZ or leave. Either way spend a lot of time paying off their student loan or are away from their culture and family. Two bleak choices.

          No amount of training is going to change most NZ employers in this country who are addicted to low productivity and lowering wages and most are only prepared to pay big dollars for overseas based hires because fundamentally for Rogernomics to succeed they had to create the idea that Kiwi workers are lazy and hopeless and worth less, a position that the government continually to this day, reinforces.

          It’s weird for example that a Kiwi carpenter needs to be registered and do extensive training but any firm can just bring in someone from overseas for that skill without them having to prove (like teachers, doctors, nurses) that the new hire actually does have that skill to the NZ standard and pass a course to prove it and have to pay for their costs to the country in healthcare and housing and infrastructure new people need.

          The new CTO that wasn’t is, a modern example from the sounds of it, someone born elsewhere, spent little time paying any taxes in NZ, but educated here, happy to return here and given citizenship even though it sounds like he failed the criteria because he was out of the country too long. Due to government error even though he has not worked here, he managed to earn over$100k by not actually starting in the job.

          This is completely the government’s fault and the guy sounds deserving, but is that really the message they want to send to modern Kiwis? Get the fuck out of NZ as fast as possible after being educated here, pay taxes and work elsewhere in the world, make sure your kids get NZ citizenship too even though they don’t live here either, and the government will pay you to come back if you make it or possibly just give you citizenship and then change their mind on the job?

          No wonder poor Kiwi’s who don’t have 3 different passports can’t compete, not on the global ‘career’ system or even the low paid worker system but luckily (sarcasm) they do get to have their taxes spent helping those that were not born here have a lot more choices, health and eduction if they need it and currently paying for he infrastructure and housing for the richer folks who probably don’t regularly live and pay taxes here and are the ‘success’ stories.

    • mary_a 10.4

      UncookedSelachimorpha (10) … 100% spot on.

  11. millsy 11

    It doesn’t help, that there seems to be a tendency, more so in the past decade or so, to gently nudge young people from poorer backgrounds into courses for vocational and trade education, and reserve university for the wealthy and middle class, with a few lucky scholarship winners.

  12. Incognito 12

    Thanks MS. I’ll try & read the NZH articles later.

    The Proletariat has always encountered limited access to the highly desired school/universities/courses – the Precariat doesn’t even try with very very few exceptions. Once in, their struggle continues in obtaining the same grades as their more privileged peers – I won’t even touch the hot potato of educator bias. After completion their cannot expects all doors to magically open for them either as obtaining highly sought after positions often go to candidates with the right pedigree & background and associated networks. Often the arguments run along the lines of being a ‘better fit’ in the team or something rather. I recently wrote here that it is not what you know or even whom you know. No, it’s who knows you. The personal contacts/networks often trump (academic) performance & merit. This is largely based on anecdotal evidence, of course.

    • Draco T Bastard 12.1

      /agreed

      WINZ tells us that ~70% of positions go to people who are known by the owners of business.

  13. SHG 13

    more than half the entrants are from families on the top three tiers of the income ladder. In simple terms, poor are outnumbered by the rich 10 to one.

    Quick, better make their loans interest-free!

    • Muttonbird 13.1

      You are looking at this the wrong way. Why not recognise that Labour’s tertiary education policy is an extension of primary and secondary education policy?

  14. UncookedSelachimorpha 14

    Notice in this post, which includes a damning indictment of the rwnj world view – there are no comments from the usual rwnjs! Their whole ‘meritocracy’ bullshit is so clearly just that.

    Hard to argue against what Kirsty is saying here.

  15. mpledger 15

    There are 10% of schools in the lowest decile but not 10% of students. Lower decile schools tend to be smaller and the high decile schools tend to be bigger – this post clearly shows part of the reason why. Part of that is also that the higher decile schools are in cities, parts of which are rich and highly populated.

    About 8% of *all* students went to decile 1 schools and 14% went to decile 10 schools in 2017. The percentages generally increase as the decile increases.

    If you just look at rolls in year 7-13 or year 9-13 schools then here are the percentages
    decile percent of total students in this decile school
    1 4.7
    2 4.7
    3 7.4
    4 9.5
    5 8.0
    6 14.8
    7 13.5
    8 12.9
    9 13.9
    10 10.3
    99 0.3

    The thing is that big schools can do acceleration, stream and run scholarship classes because they have enough kids to be able to *afford* to have a teacher teach it. Small schools have barely enough kids doing sciences at year 13 to employ dedicated teachers, let alone run dedicated scholarship classes.

    Acceleration, streaming and dedicated classes do matter at the high end – you don’t have to pass a scholarship exam to get into medical school but just being in those classes – for the exposure to the material, peers and high quality teaching – really helps for level 3 exams.

    • mpledger 15.1

      One thing they did in the USA to help schools at the low end was to put gifted (“magnet”) academies in them e.g. academic, arts and sport. That lured richer white and Asian parents back to lower decile schools which helped for advocacy and other parental contributions. I would guess it also entices teachers as well.

      The downside is that the school does to split along the who is in the academy and who isn’t. If you have a South Auckland school (say) that has integrated a lot of Pacific culture into the school and seen increasing success in exams and then suddenly throw a whole lot of white parents into the mix then it’s most likely not going to go well for anyone.

      We seem to do the sports academies mainly … although there are some health academies in some lower decile Auckland high schools.

  16. AB 16

    Well it’s completely obvious that genuine equality of opportunity can exist only in a society that is already reasonably equal. To pretend otherwise is the self-serving delusion common at the top end of town.
    But we shouldn’t fall into the trap of thinking it’s all about giving opportunities – because that isolates us into competing individuals. The fact is that having a decent life should still be a certainty, even if you don’t get into the medical, law or engineering school. Remove the economic stress and just get kids to do the things they have a talent for and a delight in doing.

    • SaveNZ 16.1

      +1 AB – life should be for living, not some sort of survivor episode where each week there are challenges and eliminations both if you are rich or poor or somewhere in between. We need to get away from measuring life in terms of the economy, a ideology set up by economists not exactly experts in the social side of living….

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